The Ghost of Lowell Weicker

|

Not since an angry mob of Nutmeg Staters chased then-Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker down a street has a gubernatorial spectacle been this enjoyable.

The pressure on beleaguered California chief exec Gray Davis has just gotten stronger, with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) publicly suggesting that Davis maybe oughtta think about stepping down

Though the idea of California as a bellwether is totally played out, it's nice to hope that a successful recall of a sitting pol may spread eastward across the rolling fields of the republic.

Advertisement

NEXT: Data Haven Down?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. James Merritt,

    Yes, I am very sure of a loss.

    I guess I am also not very fond of the anarchy that some people appear to be espousing; then again, I am more of a Hobbesian than a follower of Rousseau.

  2. joe:

    I always thought choosing the lesser of evils always seemed to make the “lesser” evil ratchet upward from one election to the next.

  3. James Merritt,

    Tempered by Montesquieu and Montaigne of course. 🙂

  4. So the solution is to choose the greater evil? Well, the German Communists thought that way, convinced that bringing the Nazis to power would cause the situation to become so bad that the people would eventually overthrow them.

    Has this strategy, “worse is better,” EVER worked? Anywhere?

  5. “The recall to me simply demonstrates that Californians are a bunch of spoiled brats.”

    Actually, the Democrat controlled House, Senate, and Governorship pretty much demonstrated that.

  6. “For what purpose? I still don’t understand the merits of the recall. Fine if they want to recall him, but it seems more justified by anger at factors Davis has no control over as opposed to some real scandal or indescretion.”

    It is true that Davis never had full control over the state’s government, but he clearly mishandled his part in things. California spends way too much money on various social experiments, is involved in bizarre electic power regulation schemes, over regulates, over taxes, etc. It is a clear example of what happens when the Democrats — particularly left wing Democrates — get their way over 90% of the time.

  7. Don,

    Most of California’s budget is decided by ballot measure; Californians have only themselves to blame.

  8. Don,

    As a rule Communists are opposed to fascism; they give it as an end stage of capitalism actually. And no, post-WWI Germany’s industrial base did NOT have to be re-built. It was intact, partly because an invading army never touched German soil.

  9. Don,

    Learn something of the historical record in the future, BTW. 🙂

  10. joe,

    How exactly does refusing to choose the “lesser evil” (i.e., choosing from what is put on your plate like a good little boy) translate into choosing the GREATER evil?!

  11. Don,

    You’ll have to show me some evidence that Soviet thinkers though of fascism as anything other than advanced capitalism. Gramsci certainly didn’t to my knowledge, and he was by far one of the most important thinkers of the 1930s.

    “Actually, the Russian army did in fact invade Germany. Not at the end of WW1, but at the beginning, and this probably saved the French and the BEF, because it prevented the Germans from concentrating on victory in the West.”

    That’s right, there was the disasterous battle of Tannenburg, etc. As to the French and the BEF losing the war, well, you seem to have forgotten that the only reason the Russians advanced as far as they did is due to the German plan of largely ignoring the Eastern front and taking out France early on. That didn’t happen. The French 5th, 6th and 9th Armies and the small BEF faced the mass of the German army in 1914, and defeated them at the First Battle of the Marne (partly with the aid of Parisian taxi drivers ferrying thousands of fresh troops to the lines when the French Sixth Army was near collapse). The Germans spent three days trying to break the Allies lines, with no success; eventually they retreated on Sept. 9th. Throughout the rest of the war, the vast bulk of the German army remained on the Western front, and most Germany’s armanents industries were geared toward fighting there. Russia was so weak that it could be toyed with in a way France and Britain could not.

    “However, the economic ruin that the Allies swept across Germany post WW1 basically turned Germany from a modern, industrial power to a second class nation. Fascism provided a path to put Germany back on her feet.”

    Well, even if that is the case, and it really isn’t, that doesn’t mean Germany had to be re-built. Much myth unfortunately surrounds the whole idea of reparations as the primary cause of Germany’s economic problems in the post-war period, when in fact Germany’s problems were largely of its own design. Political instability created by the loss and economic losses during the war itself are a far more satisfactory explanation (especially given how little over all reparations were actually collected). In fact, every combatant, except the US, also suffered great economic pain because of the war. For example, during the war Britain went from the world’s largest creditor to the world’s largest debtor. France itself piled up huge amounts of debt. And one can guess who the creditor for all these debts were. Furthermore, once the war ended, a sharp dropoff in government spending produced a sharp recession for both France, the US, Britain, and Germany.

    As to fascism providing a path to putting Germany back on its feet, well the glories of fascist economics are generally overstated.

  12. For what purpose? I still don’t understand the merits of the recall. Fine if they want to recall him, but it seems more justified by anger at factors Davis has no control over as opposed to some real scandal or indescretion.

    And does anyone really think that whoever inherits his job will be able to do anything better/different/novel?

  13. Yes, the cessation of reparations payments would have boosted the German economy regardless of the economic system it adopted. The short-term Keyensian jolt of rearmament and the authoritarian methods used to curtail inflation also brought about economic improvements, though of course they would not, by themselves, have produced long term economic stability. But then, they weren’t meant to.

    And fascism is far right politics. It is a system dedicated to securing power for those who already held it – the military, rich industrialists, the centralized state, men, ethnic Germans (or Italians, or Spaniards), etc.

  14. They could try something novel like working to repeal the smoking ban. While it is often touted that California’s restaurant industry continued to grow after the ban, this is somewhat misleading. Growth since the ban has been about 3% annually, compared with 6% annually as the national average. Prior to 1998, California had been ahead of the curve in this area. So, even comparing their 3% against the average 6%, given that it is today about a $40 billion industry, they’ve screwed themselves out of about $13 billion over the past 5 years. Given much of this would have been for highly taxed liquor, add in sales tax on food, tax on restaurant profits and income tax on workers, the state is out around $4 billion. That’s more than 10% of their budget problem right there. It would take time to recoup, it wouldn’t be instantaneous, but it would be a step in the right direction and wouldn’t cost a dime (actually shouldn’t cost a dime, but I’m sure they’d make sure it would cost something).

  15. Jean Bart asks, “does anyone really think that whoever inherits his job will be able to do anything better/different/novel?”

    If a Libertarian gets into office, and strives in a direction that is consistent with the party platform and libertarian philosophy in general, you will see better, different, and novel.

    This is not to say that opponents of the Libertarian won’t describe “better, different, and novel” as “catastrophic, deviant, and discredited.” But that will just be spin.

  16. And Angelyne’s running! She might not be better, but she would certainly be different and novel.

    In fact, compared to Davis, she just might be better, too.

  17. Another novel approach they could take (although this would have to be implemented before the election to work), is to find a way to charge admission to watch the little three ring show they are putting on. The current commercials on NBC for Leno, for Arnold’s appearance on Wednesday to announce his intention, are hilarious. They’ve got file footage of Arnold standing on the stage waving a great big American flag. I’m hoping Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel invites Larry Flynt on to talk about his own campaign. It’s just going to get better and better.

    On a related note I was watching Predator the other day and wondering: if Arnold runs and wins, could Carl Weathers be next?

  18. Jean,

    You misunderstand. This is not primarily about putting in somebody new with a better agenda (although as part of a campaign to scale back the state that might be tactically useful). This is mainly an attack on the state itself, paralyzing the central apparatus so that a thousand flowers can bloom in civil society.

    Here’s to a recall attempt in EVERY governor’s administration, and an impeachment of EVERY U.S. president. Creative destruction is what Americans excel at, so I hear.

  19. James Merritt,

    The problem with that scenario is that such a candidate can’t control the California legislature, and its not going to happen anyway.

    Kevin Carson,

    So you know the hearts and minds of those who signed the petition? 🙂

  20. The recall to me simply demonstrates that Californians are a bunch of spoiled brats.

  21. ^ someboody is bitter that I can go to the beach to get a tan even on Christmas day =)

  22. Jean,

    No–I’m just making a calculated guess about the motivation of most of the pro-recall people on these threads who are rubbing their hands together over events in California. It’s certainly my reason for celebrating it.

    Every further step toward “mean spiritedness” and “partisan bickering” that’s occurred since the Gingrich-Tip O’Neill feud has been to the good, because it is another step in the decay of the government as a functioning entity. It’s when the governing class starts playing nice and getting all “bipartisan,” that you’d better sleep on your back and keep your butt cheeks tightly clenched. All hail Discordia!

  23. Plus, it’s cola-out-the-nose funny!

  24. Um, Kevin? Increasing the number and ferocity of partisan contests doesn’t sould like a very wise strategy for reducing the intrusion of government. It just ratchets up the desire of politicians to have something to run on.

    It sounds like you’re arguing “worse is better,” which only ever seems to bring about “even worse.”

  25. Jean Bart says (of the potential for a Libertarian win in the CA gubernatorial recall), “James Merritt, The problem with that scenario is that such a candidate can’t control the California legislature, and its not going to happen anyway.”

    First, there is a lot of good that a governor can do, even if wholly antagonistic to the legislature. There are many levers for “control,” including veto power, pardon power, and others. By Jean’s reasoning, only a Democrat governor could be effective, because only he or she could control the partisanly contentious legislature. Let’s hope Jean is wrong on that point, regardless of Libertarian prospects in this race.

    Second, is Jean so very sure that, unless the election timing and/or rules are changed, the Libertarian candidate is such a long shot in this case? I’m looking at some remarkably encouraging numbers that augur well for the main Libertarian candidate who has announced so far. He may not win, but chances are good that he won’t be a negligible also-ran, either. We’ll see.

  26. “You’ll have to show me some evidence that Soviet thinkers though of fascism as anything other than advanced capitalism.”

    The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century, by A. James Gregor

    “And fascism is far right politics. It is a system dedicated to securing power for those who already held it – the military,”

    Certainly, the Brown Shirts (SA) in Nazi Germany didn’t think so; but Hitler needed the army more than the Brown Shirts, and he turned the Black Shirts (SS) on them.

    “rich industrialists,”

    The fascists made use of the “rich industrialists”, unlike the Communists who simply killed them.

    “the centralized state, men, ethnic Germans (or Italians, or Spaniards), etc.”

    Similar to Soviet Russia or Communist China? Sure, you would have to change the ethnic group, but it is still the same thing . . .

  27. “And fascism is far right politics. It is a system dedicated to securing power for those who already held it – . . . men, . . .”

    I have to hit at this again.

    Frankly, the treatment of women in the USSR was worse than in any fascist country I know of. Lenin gave his approval to the mass rape of Russian bourgeois women. Stalin allowed the Red Army free rape in Europe, particularly Germany, where millions of women were raped, many raped to death. Even Tito complained about the rape and muder of Slav women by the Red Army (allies, and fellow Slavs!)–Stalin’s respons was that you can’t expect a man to travel 1,000 miles without becoming horny. The only treatment of women in modern history that was as bad (that I’m aware of) is that of the Imperial Japanese, and that bad treatment was focused on women from other asian countries.

  28. In a state with such unique demographics as California, the Legislature is far more democratic than state-wide elections. Remember each district represents roughly the same number of people, regardless of the proportion of citizens, registered voters, children. So in general (if districts are discrete enough) non-voting interests.

    This is why conservatives passed term limits. This is why the recall is taking place now. Although California is 50% white/ 50% nonwhite, last November’s voters were 76% white/ 24% nonwhite. There were 3 votes for every white, to one vote for every nonwhite. With lower turnout next week, the results will be even more skewed. As a result the opinions of actual voters do not reflect the will or the needs of Californians today, and certainly not of the future.

    Regarding the bellwether comment – this is one of the reasons why certain interests pushed for the recall – to weaken California as a national political force! But it’s always going to be a social bellwhether – the issues confronting Cali will reach the shores, er, borders, of other states. Pay attention to its developments even if Bush has tried to undermine its economic and political health.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.